SFA foreign exchange students safe, sound in wake of Paris attac - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

SFA foreign exchange students safe, sound in wake of Paris attacks

SFA International Programs continued with a scheduled recruitment of foreign exchange students held just days after the Paris terrorist attacks. (Source: KTRE Staff) SFA International Programs continued with a scheduled recruitment of foreign exchange students held just days after the Paris terrorist attacks. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Two SFA foreign exchange students are studying at a university in La Rochelle, France. That’s about 400 miles from Paris. (Source: KTRE Staff) Two SFA foreign exchange students are studying at a university in La Rochelle, France. That’s about 400 miles from Paris. (Source: KTRE Staff)
SFA International Programs director Heather Catton is not wanting the political unrest to discourage students from study abroad.  (Source: KTRE Staff) SFA International Programs director Heather Catton is not wanting the political unrest to discourage students from study abroad. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

The Paris attacks have far reaching consequences in many ways, including international studies.

At Stephen F. Austin State University, foreign exchange students' safety is now a concern. Looking into next year, several study abroad trips to Paris are scheduled … at least for now. Organizers are monitoring the unrest closely.

When Paris was attacked, communication to foreign exchange students studying there or nearby was important. SFA International Programs Director Heather Catton immediately reached out to two American students studying in La Rochelle, France.

"They're living about four-1/2 hours from Paris in a pretty small town about 80,000 people in the town,” Catton said. “So I think they felt safe. They said everything was fine. That they felt OK."

A line of communication was also opened for the three French students at SFA.

"None of them have a direct, personal connection with anything that happened with family or friends,Catton said.

Knowing that everyone was safe and reassured, Catton progressed. As scheduled she set up a booth in the student center to sell the idea of study abroad. She had no way of knowing it would happen just days after terrorist attacks in Paris.

"I hope study abroad in general that it won't have a big impact,” Catton said. “That's what's going to help these situations is that people do understand each other. That they're not isolating themselves."

So Catton is hopeful three summer study abroad trips to Paris for faculty and students won't be canceled.
 
"I think we're going to, you know, see how everything develops over the next couple of days and probably meet with them and make some decisions about the programs,” Catton said.

International exposure is something the university supports and encourages, but organizers know it must be done in the safest way possible.

Universities routinely make their decision based on travel advisories.

SFA will not allow trips to countries with State Department warnings. 

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